Been using a wiki for business collaboration…

…on a project over the last few weeks, with a group of geographically dispersed colleagues. For the most part the experience has been quite pleasant. For folks who aren’t familiar with wikis, they’re collaborative web spaces that anyone can edit.
* The wiki is used to post meeting times, resources for the group, and for individuals to post what they’re working on.
* We typically email to brainstorm ideas; then post the results of the brainstorming to the Wiki where it can be sculpted.
* The absurdly low overhead is delightful — click “edit this page” to edit the page. Even easier than keeping an intranet and ftp-ing html pages (which I’ve done in a previous startup). Less likelihood of versionitis caused by ftp-ing an old file version onto a newer one.
* Easy to keep track of what’s new by clicking on “recent changes”
* Keeps behind-the-scenes work out of email, freeing email for interactive conversation
The easygoing “anyone edit” system works well except when more than one person is editing the same document on a deadline. Upon which we needed to implement “social document management” by verbally “checking-in” and “checking-out” sections.
After the first dozen or so entries, you need to start gardening the home page to keep it from getting tangled and overgrown.
The hyperlink-tyranny of the Wiki interface makes multi-page structures rather dizzying to navigate. This method will top out above a certain level of complexity, without the ability to add more navigational cues.
Using a Wiki is much easier and more pleasant than the corporate Microsoft monoculture, which requires the use of rock-heavy tools like PowerPoint and Word to do simple things.
Using a Wiki requires collaboration and trust within the workgroup. Knowledge management isn’t technological, it’s social.
It will be interesting to see how and whether the use of Wiki will scale when and if the project matures. In the mean time, there’s a set of rapid, low-overhead collaboration processes that the Wiki works really nicely for.

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